Let’s Plan An Eco-Conscious Ramadan

“Even if the planet is suffering because of our food habits, we cannot rush to change them – but in my opinion, trying to reduce the consumption of meat should be imperative for us.”

“Even if the planet is suffering because of our food habits, we cannot rush to change them – but in my opinion, trying to reduce the consumption of meat should be imperative for us.”

It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed as guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. 

“So any one of you who is present that month should fast and anyone who is ill or on a journey should make up for the lost days by fasting on other days later. Allah Almighty wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.” (Quran 2:185)

The month of Ramadan is quickly approaching in a period that may seem worrying for several reasons.

Without forgetting the tragic war in Ukraine and the dangers still posed by Covid 19, I would focus attention, here, on the recently slightly neglected issue of the ecological crisis and on the relationship between Islam and ecology. I have already written an article for TMV on this crucial relationship, mentioning some important books and scholars. 

In the UK, in the last two years, this has been realized by Kamran Shezad and Bahu Trust in The Guide to an Eco-Conscious Ramadan. This guide offers several important tips to be more mindful about the environment during the holy month of “fast and feast”. 

It should not be too difficult to be more mindful about the use of water (even during the ritual ablution) and the waste of food and to do our best to eliminate plastic from our kitchens (for example drinking fresh juices instead of soft drinks in plastic bottles – and nowadays there is more than one eco-friendly option for disposable plates and cutlery). It is probably more difficult to reduce the use of meat — having, as everybody knows, a strong impact on the environment — during the rich and very often shared meals after sunset. 

However, the month of Ramadan should be also the right time to be more creative in the kitchen! We can easily find hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes on the web for our suhoor and iftar. Even the famous charity Islamic Relief advises some meat-free recipes. Vegetarianism and veganism are growing within the worldwide Muslim community even if, as the Berlin-based artist Neslihan Değerli (co-founder of Avecnous Berlin) says, it is still difficult to be vegetarian during the month of Ramadan.

Indeed we could define this holy month as a “social one”: a time to be spent, mostly in the evening, with family and friends – and this causes many to see vegetarianism as still quite taboo. 

“People laugh at you”, Değerli says to Ms Amina Kaabi who authored the article for Mr Porter Can You  Survive Ramadan As A Vegetarian? “It’s in our culture, it’s in our mentality that animals and everything that is on planet Earth is there for humans to consume, so you’re going against that idea”. We get the same comments from Mr Tarek and Ms Leila Idrissi, siblings and Paris-based chefs of La Cuisine de Souad. 

Advertise on TMV

I had a talk on this crucial issue with Ms Carlotta Artuso, founder of Carlotta PR who is based in London.  Carlotta has been working in PR and events for almost a decade, both in-house and with award-winning agencies before having her own company.

She strongly believes that food and lifestyle choices are pivotal for our well-being and that nourishing our body and mind correctly can help us reach our best selves. The mission of Carlotta PR is to help brands that have the well-being of people and the Earth at the core of their business achieve their PR goals. 

“I wouldn’t define myself as a vegan activist in the proper etymological sense – I would never point the finger against anyone eating animals”, Carlotta tells me during a short interview, “I certainly wasn’t born vegan and it took me lots of books and lectures and information to make this choice and change my lifestyle, as the mainstream information about nutrition is very confusing and too overwhelming”. 

I asked her how she could motivate young Muslims to eat less meat (eventually starting during the month of Ramadan). 

“My personal suggestion”, she answered, “is to do serious research before deciding to drastically reduce or eliminate meat from our diet, and to do it slowly and step by step. Food is for us to be enjoyed and a plant-based diet doesn’t have to become a limit, but an opportunity to thrive. The more we change our diet towards whole-food and plant-based options, the more we will feel better and energetic, and our body will be craving healthy food which ultimately delivers health, happiness and longevity”. 

Even if the planet is suffering because of our food habits, we cannot rush to change them – but in my opinion, trying to reduce the consumption of meat should be imperative for us. Planning to start an eco-conscious and possibly meat-free Ramadan might just be the solution. 

«And the earth He has put down (laid) for the creatures. Therein are fruits, date palms producing sheathed fruit stalks (enclosing dates). And also corn, with (its) leaves and stalks for fodder and sweet scented plants. Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both (jinn and men) deny?» (Quran 55:10-16)

Links for vegetarian and vegan recipes for Iftar